Monetization shouldn't be prioritized above player experience, says Take-Two CEO
Speaking during the Cowen and Company Technology, Media & Telecom Conference, Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick broke down, among many things, how he believes the publisher’s monetization efforts differ from other major players in the game industry.
Zelnick himself notes that the company’s approach may sound a bit on the cliched side, but that most of Take-Two’s focus falls on creating and monetizing content in a way that is driven by “delighting consumers” rather than creating impressive analytics. He explains that, put simply, “The better the product, the more people will be willing to spend on it.”
While not all advice was given by game giants like Take-Two can be directly applied to smaller-scale game development efforts, Zelnick's reasoning behind the publisher's quality-first monetization philosophy is something that many developers may already relate to.
“[We focus on] giving the consumer more than they bargain for, not less,” explains Zelnick. “We want to, and we do, stop well short of saying ‘how do we grab the last nickel out of your pocket?’ And we do it because we don’t think that’s how the entertainment business works.”
“The entertainment business is not data, analytics, and monetization driving content creation,” he says. “The entertainment business is content creation based in passion and genius that leads to financial rewards.”
He notes that, even with this approach, developers need to be mindful of their business model and recognize that giving things away for free isn’t sustainable by any means. And while he says that Take-Two's recurrent consumer spending has room to grow before reaching its fullest potential, the company isn’t interested in flawlessly optimizing its monetization efforts for fear of leaving a bad taste in players’ mouths.
"Think about it anecdotally: when you paid a little too much for something, even if it was something really good, it really irks you. Paying too much for something bad is even worse," he says. "Paying too much for something really good, even if you can afford it, just leaves you with a bad feeling. We don't want our consumers to ever feel that way.”